Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: The Impact of State Legislation and Model Policies on School Bullying

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Amanda S. Terry, University of Central Florida
School bullying is a critical education, public health, and social issue. A young person who has been bullied has an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and other negative health outcomes. As of 2011, 46 states had passed anti-bullying legislation, and 41 states had created model policies to guide local school districts through policy development. This study explored whether the coverage of state legislation and the rating of state model policies are associated with the state-level prevalence rates of school bullying. Cross-sectional data on school bullying rates were collected through the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and data on state legislation and model policies were based on the 2011 report by the Department of Education titled Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies. State legislation included components in four possible categories – definitions, district policy review and development, district policy components, and additional components. State model policies were rated based on how well they covered the key components. A multiple regression analysis was conducted. The results showed that the definitions category in state legislation and the state model policy rating were statistically significant predictors of the state-level prevalence of bullying at school. However, the categories of district policy review and development, district policy components, and additional components in state legislation were not statistically significant predictors. Clear definitions of the purpose, scope, prohibited behavior, and enumerated groups in state legislation, as well as expansiveness of state model policies, are important in efforts to reduce school bullying. Improving these areas might lead to lower prevalence rates of school bullying and ultimately to better public health among adolescents.